The Football League hurled itself into a head-on collision with the rest of the domestic game last night after its chairman, Sir Brian Mawhinney, took the Football Association and the Premier League to task over the regulation of agents' fees.
Speaking at the Soccerex trade show here, Mawhinney threatened a breakaway by his 72 clubs over the way agents are paid unless the other parties agreed to curtail inflated fees to the middlemen.
Mawhinney warned that they would no longer tolerate agents taking money from both club and player in the same transaction and threatened to set up a separate set of regulations.
Last year, Football League clubs paid £7.6m in agents' fees and Mawhinney had urged the FA, unsuccessfully, to outlaw dual representation at its recent board meeting. "They went into that meeting with the rule [for single representation] in place but it was not there when they came out," said Mawhinney.
"If the FA council endorses that stance next week, we will immediately consult our members with a view to single representation. We will also consult with them about whether they would like to prevent clubs paying agents at all."
Mawhinney pointed the finger squarely at the Premier League, which opposes changes in the law because it would put them at a disadvantage to the rest of Europe. "I have heard the expression that the Premier League tail wags the FA dog and I couldn't possibly comment," he said. "But if it is an accurate metaphor we saw an example of it at the FA board meeting."
If supported by his members, new rules on agents in the Championship, League One and League Two, could be in place by the start of next season.
That could lead to three separate sets of regulations. But Mawhinney stood firm. "This is not an anti-agents crusade, it's about lack of accountability. We're trying to be the good guys."
Dennis Roach, one of England's best-known agents, said Mawhinney had got it completely wrong. "They have sorted this out all over Europe where as soon as an agent takes a player to a club, it knows exactly how much it has to pay.
"But here, when a club desperately wants a player, sometimes it doesn't lead to the best agreement [in terms of agents' fees]. By all means regulate it, percentage it so everyone knows what the figure is - but we should be careful before we go charging in."Reuse content